Don't Pick Up

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: Narrative Short
GENRE: Horror
STATUS: Pre-Production


A young aspiring junior attorney, working on behalf of a Texas oil company, is tasked with falsifying documents linked to a cursed wrongful death lawsuit.


Tye, a young aspiring junior attorney working on behalf of a Texas oil company, is tasked with falsifying documents connected to a wrongful death lawsuit. However, Tye quickly learns the victim, a worker who drowned in crude oil, haunts the case and now him.


‘Don’t Pick Up’ is an examination of the main character Tye’s relationship with his work, where he faces a situation in which he feels forced to bend his moral and ethical principles. Similar to Tye, with my own related experiences in advertising I have often needed to question my own moral and ethical boundaries. Whether it was working on gambling or pharmaceutical commercials, I felt uncomfortable with creating this content, but limited work opportunities make one feel as if they have little control or agency in these situations. The story examines a situation in which Tye is forced to address these questions; however, the concerns escalate past moral and ethical dilemmas but into grave concerns on legality and personal safety. Every attempt to achieve his personal professional goals only brings him closer to his grave fate. Another related aspect of the story I am wanting to explore is the disconnect between our actions and those affected. In the story, Tye initially feels quite insulated from any potential consequences of his action. Tye believes as long as he is legally shielded, anything he does in relation to a bizarre accident in West Texas from his office in New York City can’t possibly come back to him, because that is often the way it plays out. Decisions and actions executed with physical and emotional distance often lessen any resulting feeling or reality of guilt or consequence. Insulated by geographical distance, his law firm, and the oil company, Tye feels disconnected from the terror and horror of the tragic incident allowing himself to be inadvertently carried into a dire situation. The story examines where culpability and consequences meet and often it doesn’t start at the top but instead begins lower with a more easy and unassuming target. The safety documents that Tye alters and falsifies took a long path to reach him. Initially written five years before the start of the story, the safety documents passed from a safety inspector to sub-contractors, well-operators, corporate employees then to Vance Harding before eventually landing with Tye. Tye is not the prime culprit of the cover up, but he is more vulnerable than any corporate entity, high-level executive or Vance. Tye is more easily coerced into affecting the case and therefore encountering the curse of the oil drowned worker. Tye feels his agency constrained in a situation where there are seemingly no positive outcomes for him. All in all, these are some of the key questions that have fueled the creation of this narrative, and which are also the source for why I believe this project is worth pursuing and making.


Benjamin Robertson White - Writer and Director
Ben White is an NYC filmmaker and Graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Film and Television. Professionally he works as a video editor whose edited numerous nationally broadcasted commercials for clients such as: BMW, ESPN, IKEA, Peloton, Dairy Queen, and many more. He also is Visual effects Artist whose worked on shows and movies at Netflix and HBO. He also has directed internationally screened short films, as well as written numerous feature screenplays. He has a great passion for telling personal stories through the horror genre lens.

Hearin Ko - Producer
Hearin is an international producer with roots in Seoul, a formative journey in Shanghai, and a dynamic career presently unfolding in New York City. With over seven years of experience within the Media & Entertainment industry, she has effectively managed all facets of content creation, from the preliminary stages of development to the meticulous work of post-production. Her portfolio is as diverse as it is vast, featuring projects such as K-pop music videos, Chinese cinema, British documentaries, and American feature films. At the heart of her work lies a deep-seated passion for transcending cultural barriers; her goal is to captivate and educate global audiences through the power of media.

Amaal Mustafa - Cinematographer
Amaal is a cinematographer based in NY and LA. He has lensed short form narrative projects, music videos and commercials, working with clients like Sony Music, Ford Models, UMG and others. It is with cinema that he looks for ways to investigate the images, conversations and feelings that populate our times.


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